944 Electrification on a Budget

We have had several folks ask us to investigate the rumors of a new product that is specifically for our 944 and 924S cars, so we have started a new thing on our site called “Product News.”  Pretty original, huh?  Anyway, we are starting with a great idea that will change your car into a gas/electric hybrid on a budget and add needed horsepower.

A company based in Wisconsin called 944Electric has invented a really cool way to integrate hybrid electric vehicle technology into your 944 or 924S.  We must stress that the application here is NOT to provide an electric-only driving experience, although the company says that there is very limited range available with their system on electric-only operation; no, the idea here is to add horsepower and torque through the use of hybrid-electric vehicle technology, and do so in an almost “bolt-on” installation.  In a nutshell, this is how it works.

As we all know, there is a rather large void between the driveshaft and the transaxle – a big bell housing area that should hold a flywheel and clutch assembly. But in our application, that area holds a lot of air.  So 944Electric came up with the idea of filling that area with an electric motor that would provide additional horsepower and torque on demand.  The motor that they developed will provide about 140 additional horsepower and 220 additional lbs/ft of torque to the gasoline engine, making a peak of nearly 300 horsepower and 370 lbs/ft of torque.  Pretty good for a bolt-in solution.

The secret is found in reworking the transaxle to accept the electric motor.  944Electric removes the bell housing from the transaxle, then replaces the transaxle input shaft with a shorter one to accommodate the electric motor install.  A bespoke bell housing is then installed on the transaxle with the electric motor inside, with cables coming out through a waterproof gateway on the top right of the housing.  The transaxle installs in the same way as the stock transaxle with the front of the motor slid into the unaltered driveshaft.  No clamp is needed.  Cables are then run into the right side fender well in the trunk area where they connect to the controller.

The controller is where the real science happens.  If desired, the car can run on all electric, all gasoline, or together via a three-way switch installed in the console.  However, the controller also hooks into the throttle position sensor so that it can decide on the amount of electric boost to provide – depending, of course, on the position of the console switch.

The electric boost behavior is fairly simple and direct now, but 944Electric is planning to add features like electric start-stop (engine off at traffic lights) and regenerative braking in the near future.  The existing controller can support these features, they will be rolled out with a software update.  944Electric is also investigating other features such as enabling the removal of the stock starter (just use the hybrid motor to start the engine) and perhaps even removal of the stock battery and alternator.

So where are the batteries?  Batteries are located in the rear under the hatch.  Since the batteries are not meant to power the entire car for hundreds of miles, the battery pack is small, keeping both space allocation and cost to the minimum.  The left fender well is utilized for batteries, as well as one layer 4.75″ thick across the hatch area behind the rear seat.  A cooling void under the battery pack circulates cool air to keep the batteries cool. The left side fender well in the hatch area contains the battery (and controller) cooling system. So you will lose both fender well areas as well as just under five inches of floor space in the installation, but it is hidden under the existing carpet mat.  A plug-in receptacle for battery charging can be installed in the trunk on the same side as the controller.  Batteries will go from empty to full charge in 8 hours using 110V house current.

“Range” is hard to define in a system like this.  How long the battery lasts depends greatly on driving conditions, how much hard acceleration is happening, and how aggressive the boost control is set.  In testing, 944Electric has seen the battery provide full boost for about 75 miles of typical “city” driving, however that is expected to go up as regenerative braking is rolled out, and it goes up significantly if the boost setting is lower – 150+ miles at half power, which is still a lot of power.

Of course there is weight added to the rear of the car, and the company suggests changing the torsion bars to 30mm units, indexing to provide the proper ride height.  Koni Sport Adjustable Shocks set to their stiffest settings are also recommended, as is an 18mm (turbo) sway bar.  All of these compensate for the added weight, which is estimated at about 225 pounds.

The kit includes a rebuilt transaxle with the electric motor installed, ready to swap into your car.  There is a hefty core charge on your existing transaxle, and you must ship yours back to them to collect the core charge.  Also included is the controller, batteries and mounting hardware, as well as all cabling and wiring to complete the job.  Suspension upgrades are up to you to provide.  944Electric is targeting a price of $6990 for the package – a bargain if you compare that to the cost of an LSx or VW/Audi engine conversion.  Installation is targeted at only a weekend.

Also, because this kit changes the transaxle and uses the space in the transaxle bellhousing, this kit is not compatible with automatic cars.

944Electric currently has three prototypes that are undergoing testing at this time.  Production and shipping is projected for July 2022.  944Electric is currently taking no more than 150 pre-orders on their website at 944Electric.com with a $500 deposit.  Production and delivery for 2022 will be limited to 150 kits, and they currently have 79 orders already in place.

Here at 924S944.com we think this is a great idea.  We can only hope that the concept works itself into a great product.  It is also worth noting that the company has already secured about a dozen patents for this product, which is quite encouraging.

Interested?  Click to see for yourself!

 

Happy April 1 to everyone!

Author: Kevin Duffy, 924S944.com LLC, DeLand, FL

After retiring from a career in Law Enforcement, Kevin Duffy turned his attention to one of his passions, Porsche 944's and 924S's. He owns 924S944.com LLC in DeLand, FL, rescuing and restoring forgotten Porsches, bringing them back to a useful life. He is especially interested in the rare-but-beautiful 924S Special Edition. He can be found at Porsche Club events, including track days, tours and shows, as well as other car-focused events around the southeastern United States.

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